Television Without Pity: The Snark is Dead. Long Live the Snark.

TWoP Tubey LogoWhen I learned today that Television Without Pity will be shutting down April 4 I felt a big “Dude that sucks” level of let down.

The more I thought about it, the worse I felt.

This is not to say that TWoP disappearing affects me personally – as it does those who worked for the site and those who freelanced for it (who were left out of the article announcing the shutdown)(which… UGH). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Harold Ramis died, I cried. Actual tears. I can use the word “literally” here. I'm not so full of my own bombast that I think I am or ever was or will be as funny as Ramis, but he is the foundation upon which everything I think is hilarious was built. His work and all the built-in in-jokes were the basis for my sense of humor, and most things that make me laugh or smile while feeling warm inside probably trace back to him, his writing, or one of his movies.

The same is true of Television Without Pity. I'm not trying to sound like a version of hipster one-upmanship when I say I remember it as Dawson's Wrap. I didn't even like Dawson's Creek but I read each multipage recap faithfully every week from the back corner cubicle where I worked as an intern for a software company. Because that shit was funny and I didn't know you could assemble words like that and make someone's stomach hurt so bad after laughing so hard. Smart people were talking intelligently and hilariously about popular culture, television and characters. That rocked my world.

I can't know if Smart Bitches could have been created without that influence. But I don't think it would. We love romance novels and mock the shit out of a lot of them because we adore them.

I remember standing next to Sarah MacLean when she met Julie Garwood at RT last year. MacLean said to her, through tears, “You…you…I…you're why I write. Your books are why I write.” I know she's not alone in feeling that way about an author. I think Loretta Chase probably arrives at conferences with hidden packages of tissues because at least 5 people might cry when they meet her (like me, except I also made the most asthmatic-sounding gasping noise ever heard aloud).

It's a powerful thing to recognize and meet those who influence you. It's also powerful to realize that like everything else, they won't be around forever.

 

 

TWOP International House of Fishcakes - mock up of IHOP logo There is no doubt that the example of TWOP is a huge part of why I write, why I insist that romance novels are worth our time, our attention, and our snark.

Really good snark builds from affection. You have to know a thing intimately in order to deliver the snarkbomb. And to know a thing intimately, you have to, either currently or at one time, care deeply about it. It's difficult to deliver incisive yet affectionate criticism about something you don't give a shit about.

Among the tweets from people talking about TWOP, many are current journalists and writers and fans who met people in the twop forums, met in real life and are still friends to this day. I wonder how many friendships trace back to the site.

I remember Tara Ariano's site Hissyfit, which I believe predates TWoP. I went to a Hissyfit breakfast meet up in NYC years and years ago. Ariano, her husband David Cole, and Sarah Bunting were going to be there, and y'all, I have never been so frightened of a room full of strangers with menus in my life. That was the first time I'd met in person the people I spoke to and admired online. It was exhilarating terror.

Now I do it several times year, easily, and I am guessing so do many others. Hell, RT is like a giant internet meet up, and you can tell by the number of people who recognize each other based on screen names and Twitter handles.

An incredible number of excellent sites and writers trace back to TWOP:

 

 

 

 

 

The things we love and laugh about draw us together online in a way that is magical and so valuable. TWoP/MBTV/DW was the first example of that for me: I'm not alone in loving this? There are MORE OF US OUT THERE? Best feeling ever. 

Hey, NBC? Please, for the love of fishcakes, please archive the recaps somewhere, donate them to a library, something. Don't let that archive disappear into fragments of old screencaps. It's too important to too many people's backstory.

 

 

This is not to say that all things TWoP were perfect, or that nothing changes. Writers changed, moderators changed, the site was bought by Bravo – all of these things plus, you know, time, created an evolution of the community and the site.

But now that it's demise is imminent, I have that sadness that comes from the recognition that I didn't really appreciate until this moment the influence they had on me, my life, and my snort laughter.

Their motto alone shows their influence: Spare the snark, spoil the networks.

Spare the snark, spoil the fashion industry: Go Fug Yourself.

Spare the snark, spoil the library collection: AwfulLibraryBooks.net

Spare the snark, spoil the publishing industry: the short lived and now defunct Life in Publishing Tumblr, shuttered when an author threatened to have the writer fired, and all the other Life-in-publishing inspired Tumblrs.

Spare the snark, spoil the romance novels: there are too many of us to link here. 

And…

Spare the snark, spoil the networks: Previously.tv, where the original founders of TWoP write on about television. 

There are so many of us now who could trace our paths backwards to an intersection or parallel journey with TWoP. It'd be like the mother of all flowcharts to trace all of us backwards. 

I remember a short-lived television show I loved called The American Embassy, which was about a young woman who worked at the American Embassy in London. I think three or four total episodes aired. But at the end of one, the main character talked about the phrase, The King is Dead, Long Live the King, the traditional proclamation of the ascension of a new monarch after the death of the old. When one monarch dies, the monarchy continues.

The snark is dead. Long live the snark.

All of it, in every iteration. Snark on.

Categorized:

Random Musings

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    june says:

    Wow. I’m sorry to see them go. They had awesome recaps of America’s Next Top Model—reading them was better than watching the actual episodes.  I also remember another site from back in the day that also had that perfect amount of snark—The11thHour.com.  They had great recaps of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I still miss that site and it’s been gone a long time. (http://web.archive.org/web/20050603001459/http://www.the11thhour.com/)

    I’ll be bookmarking Previously TV!

  2. 2
    Jennifer says:

    Thank you for the tribute to TWOP. I’m still in shock…it was and is one of my everyday “go to” sites.  Had some good times talking about dorky British shows and hoyay!

    NBCUniversal, bah.

  3. 3
    CarrieS says:

    Thanks so much for writing and posting this.  I was so horrified and stunned to hear that TWoP is closing down that it’s as though someone died.  I kept starting at Twitter going, “What?  What?  What happened?”  Am now moving from denial to bargaining and rage. 

    Maybe it sounds absurd to say that there’s this hole in my life just because a website closed, but I read that site every single day.  There are tons of shows I don’t watch but follow by way of recaps.  I feel especially grateful to Jacob Clifton, whose recaps are often insane and always brilliant and showed me how you can think analytically about pop culture regardless of what you are watching/reading.  Tv Tropes shaped how I watch shows, how I write, and how I think.  Also, thanks to recaps of Glee, I use the phrase “my imaginary TV boyfriend” all the time (I’m currently dating Ichabod from Sleepy Hollow, if you must know) and thanks to recaps of Lost I use the phrase “special snowflake” all the damn time.

  4. 4
    rayvyn2k says:

    This is the first I’ve heard that TWoP was being shut down. I’m still the proud owner of a “God in the Tub” tee shirt…created from the wonderful ‘Amazing Race’ recaps by Miss Ali (aka @nprmonkeysee).

    I am happy that she, Sars, Tara & co. will continue to entertain through other sites. :)

  5. 5
    Cristiane says:

    I am genuinely shocked.  TWOP is a huge part of my online life every day.  Well, I guess I’ll actually get work done now.  This actually brings tears to my eyes.  Go **** yourself, NBCUniversal.

  6. 6
    EmilyD says:

    I was on TWoP so much a few years back – especially the forums – on the hunt for spoilers and discussion about The Office. And lately I’ve gone back looking for HIMYM stuff. It’s a fun site and it’s a shame it won’t be around any longer. It changed for me once NBC took it on, though.

  7. 7
    jody says:

    The snark is becoming an endangered species.  it began with Gawker SnarkGod Richard Lawson leaving for The Atlantic, and then mainstream Vanity Fair, and now TWoP.  Alas and alack. Woe.

  8. 8
    Ova says:

    I can’t believe they’re going to be gone so soon. I’ve been getting my recaps there since they were Mighty Big TV. I’d better go read my favorites while I still can. Tarzan the tv show, here I come!

  9. 9
    Hequet says:

    Jeez. Another institution to be “disappeared.” (Can’t we get reddit on this to archive the forums and recaps, somehow?)
    I still remember my SQUEE of joy when Strega (she of the Buffy recaps) wrote back to me about something vaguely Spike-related (Strawberry Quik for blood and James Marsters’ sugar highs onset) I had discovered during my library job….
    I have my Frakkin’ Toaster shirt and my Dharma Generic SHIRT to remind me of the good old days, though. Think I’ll wear one in honor of Tubey on the 4th.

  10. 10
    Emily A. says:

    I am so depressed. Thank you so much Sarah for covering this! I will miss not only the Recaps but the forum which goes dark end of May. I am a long time lurker there and have never really was able to post there, but the forums were/are great. I will have to find another place for tv fans and tv recaps.
    I am even more depressed by timing. Psych ended last night, which I am sad to see go even after 8 great seasons. Bones is leaving; How I Met Your Mother is going. I was counting on TWoP to recommend something next season. I feel so lost.
    There will be a spin-off site. Previously tv, so hopefully….

    (I wish there had been a better way to announce this. I always end with feeling the people are like “Oh Really You Care.” Yes I care.)

    I tried watching Stewart to cheer up and now am depressed about Hobby Lobby and the supreme court…

  11. 11
    Natalie says:

    I’m so sad that site is going dark—I loved the recaps and the discussions. How is this middle-aged lady now supposed to keep up on TV enough to chat with people in the grocery line? Great tribute. Long live the snark.

  12. 12
    Amy Raby says:

    So sad about this. I’m not a recent visitor to TWoP because I’m not currently following any TV shows. But when I was obsessed with “The West Wing” and the first season of “24,” I checked in every week without fail. It was the perfect place to analyze a TV episode to death, with smart people who were equally obsessed. TWoP was a great community, and this is a real loss.

  13. 13
    Ducky says:

    I will really miss those forums. I had been reading and posting there since 2003. I guess stupidly I thought TWoP was always going to be around. This sucks muchly.

  14. 14
    Persnickety says:

    I don’t go there anymore, but I can remember MBTV and thenTWOP. That was the site that got me hooked on the west wing and freaks and geeks, when otherwise I would never have known.  It’s also the site that introduced me to fanfic, via the Dawson’s creek forums.

    I may need to go on a mad copy paste binge to preserve some of those recaps this weekend.

  15. 15
    knitdevil says:

    TWOP died the moment Bravo bought it.  Prior to that ill-fated day, for two years I followed the Supernatural forums religiously (pun intended), as the snark surrounding the show back in those early days was wicked fun, the inmates intelligent, the recaps laugh-out-loud funny.  And, you know, stuff – from the best way to kill a demon to fucked up families to religious tenets to screenshots of Dean Winchester’s crotch – was discussed.  Good times.  Then Bravo bought it, removed the beloved (gay) moderator, and installed a “Christian mother who was also a fan” (sic – paraphrasing her words), who systematically censored every discussion, deleted threads and locked down posts with abandon – including the hilarious and amazingly innocent Dean’s crotch thread, considering some of the X-rated incest fanwankery surrounding this show – and ruled by threat of account removal if you didn’t follow her/Bravo’s rules.  Censorship that overt is ugly to behold, and within a couple of months you could hear tumbleweeds in that corner of TWOP.  Sounds like the upcoming April 4 shut-down is just salting and burning the corpse.

  16. 16
    Yaara says:

    I remember the days of their sister site, Fametracker, where I was active constantly on their forums and was obsessed about everything – even though I didn’t actually care that much about celebrities. I found fanfiction through it, which brought me to livejournal, which brought me to a group of friends around the world who I am still in touch with, years and years later. It’s so sad when things that were such a huge part of your life just fizzle away.

    Le sigh. Internet related ennui.

  17. 17
    flchen1 says:

    Noooooooooooo!  TWoP is one place where the recaps often surpass the greatness of the original episodes.  This closure will definitely leave a huge hole in the landscape…

  18. 18
    susan says:

    I found TWoP when I was looking for recaps of Veronica Mars episodes that I missed. TWoP was my entry in to the blogs and sites I follow regularly. Without them I would not be a Smart Bitch, among other things. I stopped reading it not long after Bravo purchased it, but it is sad to know it is disappearing.

  19. 19
    Jennifer O. says:

    Oh, that’s so sad!  I was just there yesterday, though I don’t visit as much as I did pre-Bravo.  I do go back and read old recaps for Friday Night Lights, West Wing, Battlestar Galactica, so I hope they will be archived somewhere.

  20. 20
    Lisle says:

    The archives will be available through the Wayback Machine :

    on the Internet Archive.

    Be careful: the Machine is a terrible time sink.

  21. 21

    I keep telling myself that I’ll get more books written if I’m not writing thousands of words in the TWOP forums each day, but I’m already twitching from withdrawal and the forums aren’t even dead yet. I made so many friends there, learned so much about analyzing story and characters that I apply to my own work. Don’t leave me, Tubey!

  22. 22
    Algae says:

    I know that my favorite recap was of Center Stage, the ridiculously cheesy yet wonderful movie about dancing in NYC. There’s lots of love for what’s-his-name’s eyebrows and the joy over the scene where the main character changes costumes and hairstyles mid dance move is beautiful.

    I’m sad it’s closing – it’s not been a site I visited lately, but to hear the recaps are going away is…well, wrong.

  23. 23
    chacha1 says:

    I was very sad to see the shuttering post.  Pissed off, too.  Glad it will be archived somewhere at least.

    I used to read recaps of shows I didn’t even watch (like Breaking Pointe – LOL funny, who needed to actually *see* that soap opera after reading?) just for entertainment.

    I loved watching how the recapper of Dancing with the Stars gradually learned about dancing and started calling out the same things I did.

    Jacob Clifton’s work on The Blacklist has, pretty much by itself, made the show worth watching because I couldn’t wait to see how he would paraphrase the boneheaded dialogue and launch grenades at the gappy plotting.

    Le sigh.  Recherches du TV perdu.

  24. 24
    maybeimamazed02 says:

    I recently found out that Pamela Ribon is a friend of a friend! Also, Wendy McClure got her start on TWoP. Sad that freelancers are losing income and people are losing a community.

    Also, Sarah, the whole city of Chicago cried when we lost Harold. He was VERY loved here. I got to meet him once (he was a board member at an arts nonprofit where I worked for over four years), and he was such a pleasant, jovial guy. Such a loss.

  25. 25
    Dixon says:

    I met my husband through a TWoP forum and at one of the periodic in-person get togethers.  We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary.  Where would we be without Tubey indeed.

  26. 26
    Julie Brannagh says:

    I will miss TWoP. Let’s just say I have a secondary location in which I can snark to my heart’s content, and it is a tremendous relief.

    Personal to Sarah: When I met my (future) editor for the first time, I may or may not have been a bit choked up when I told her the greatest compliment I have had in my life is being signed by the same literary agency that represents Loretta Chase.

    It was really dusty in that room. ;-)

  27. 27
    Ova says:

    @knitdevil: I remember there was a hilarious thread over there devoted to whether or not Sam’s nipple was real or stage makeup from the episode “Mystery Spot.” You know, the scene where he was sewing up a wound while shirtless? There were diagrams and everything. Yeah, someone shut that down after the takeover.

  28. 28
    Dancing_Angel says:

    I don’t watch much television these days, but when I was watching West Wings, Bones, Criminal Minds, and other, it was my first and favorite place to be.  Since I hate it when showrunners do awful things to my favorite characters, I started going there first, to see if I really *wanted* to watch a show, and sometimes decided against it.

    I LOVE using TWOP to follow the Olympics.  Loved it, loved it – I learned so much about many of the athletes and their inside stories . I am so sad they are going away.  I guess I’ll need to find another way to see if I should watch a particular show or episode.

  29. 29
    Katie says:

    Could someone get a Kickstarter going to pay NBCU for the server space to keep the archive’s lights on?

    Or tell them to put the recaps on Amazon as ebooks and charge a dollar each if they want to play it that way? At least keep them accessible somehow?

    Anything I know from writing comes from TWOP

  30. 30
    Jen says:

    Due to my weekly reading the brilliant TWoP recaps of Alias, I STILL refer to Jen Garner as Spy Barbie, and Victor Garber as Spy Daddy.

Comments are closed.

↑ Back to Top